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Our Love Burns Brighter than a 10-Kiloton Nuclear Warhead

What might have been

By Stephen A. RoddewigPublished about a month ago 6 min read
Photo by Staff Sergeant Ronald Rush on Wikimedia Commons

Oh, the irony of the featured image from an actual serious story I wrote on Vocal depicting the start of nuclear war now repurposed for this nonsense I am about to set forth.

I suppose I should explain.

I am not a romance writer. I don't pretend to be one. I may incorporate romance as an element of a larger story, but it's not my primary genre.

I don't know if that makes me better equipped to parody it or not, but that's what I set out to do when my little authors group chat got onto the subject of romance novel tropes/clichés and I started laying down the absolute 10-karat prose you see below.

Not to be confused with 10-kiloton, of course 😉 Way different measure of yield.

My fellow authors then clamored that I write a full-length novel based on the concept I had started.

A possibility that I will now effectively torpedo by posting this to Vocal, beginning, middle, and end.

*cracks knuckles* So here goes...

Our Love Burns Brighter than a 10-Kiloton Nuclear Warhead

I never thought I'd find myself here, with the fate of the Free World resting atop my simple shoulders.

Or at least the fate of every cornfield, prairie dog, and Strategic Air Command base within a thirty-mile radius.

Certainly, there were those who played a role. My mother effectively sold me to the military-industrial complex at an early age. "Think of how this will help advance your father's career," she told me whenever I had the gall to protest the path she had laid out before me.

My father. The General. It certainly did a number on my psyche to be rapped on the knuckles any time I had the nerve to violate military decorum and address my superior officer as "Daddy."

This happened from the moment I could speak, to be clear. Long before I had enlisted with the Strategic Air Command and trained as a nuclear technician.

After all, General Winston had wished for a son to carry on our family's proud warrior tradition of ordering B-52s into the air for monotonous patrols waiting for the Go command to sprint over the Arctic Circle into the Soviet Union and release their nuclear payloads.

Alas, he had to settle for little old me. Simple Kelly. With only ten years of highly technical training and a plain face to my name.

"Hey," Jamie spoke up next to me, "you're doing it again."

I would've asked him what he meant by it, but there was no need. We'd been working together for a while.

Saying your thoughts out loud.

It was a nervous tick of mine, I'll admit. But I couldn't help it. Between the possible apocalypse brewing beneath the catwalk we shared and the static that raised the hairs on my arms with his proximity—despite the thick rubber of our hazmat suits—it was a miracle I could focus enough to keep from dropping my wrench.

"Earth to Kelly," Jamie's voice broke in again, "you're still doing it."

There was a lightness to his words, a suggestion of a chuckle. That made me think of his smile. Oh, that smile.

"Man, who did this to you?" he continued, definitely chuckling behind his respirator now.

He cut me off before I could reply. "Trick question. You already explained all that earlier."

Then, he turned from the valve that refused to unstick itself no matter how much torque I applied. "They're wrong, though."

"What do you mean?" I said, looking over but refusing to meet his gaze. Somehow, its intensity carried through all this suffocating material and sent chills radiating down my spine.

"You’re not plain to me," he said, placing a gloved hand under my respirator and tilting it up until my eyes met his.

His eyes, deep as the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor, held a light I hadn’t seen before.

Of course, that could also be the radiation detector lights reflecting off his goggles as we worked to unjam the valve holding back the fire suppressant desperately needed atop the the LGM-118 Peacekeeper missile beneath us.

"There's something I've been meaning to tell you for a while now."

A new set of alarm klaxons sounded, and I glanced toward the jammed valve, relieved to have the distraction. "Maybe we should get back to wor—"

"It can wait."

His tone brooked no argument, and I felt all other thoughts, worries, and the frantic voice of the silo commander spilling out of the intercom fading away.

Jamie started to pull back his hood.

I gasped. "But the radiation levels!"

He shook his head. "This is too important to delay any longer."

A moment later, and the respirator hung around his neck. My eyes drifted to his lips out of instinct. He must have noticed, because a smirk slid up one side of his face.

Then it vanished as he removed the glove from his right hand and placed it on my chest.

My heart fluttered—or did it clatter?

The clatter's source, my wrench, continued its descent into the silo, the question swiftly forgotten with Jamie's next words:

"Our love is stronger than anything this world can throw at us. It burns within you, just as it burns within me."

The fire raging atop the LGM-118 warhead below seemed to blaze even stronger, as if spurred on to match Jamie's fervor. Its flickers combined with the heat in his eyes.

"Take off your safety gear. I need to see your face."

I was putty in his hands, and as the respirator fell away, I let out a breath I didn't even know I was holding. And, for the first time, despite the eradiated smoke billowing around us, I felt like I could breathe.

Truly breathe.

Before I could say anything to ruin the moment, he leaned in. The air crackled around us as our lips locked, a result of our passion. That, and the nuclear fuel within the warhead catalyzing with the increasing heat and releasing its deadly ions into the atmosphere.

Somehow, that didn't seem to matter anymore.

At last, Jamie drew back, but not before pressing his forehead to mine.

"Our love burns brighter than a 10-kiloton nuclear warhead," he declared, his words drowning out the panicked evacuation orders now spilling from the silo's intercom.

All I could do was nod in agreement, my new-found breath robbed once again.

Of course, the 10-kiloton warhead did give us a run for its money as the fire finally penetrated enough of the weapon's internal systems to trigger the conventional high explosive components.

Just as designed, these explosive charges activated the primary fission trigger, committing Jamie and I's love to eternity.

It's like they always say: Boy meets girl.

Girl develops feelings for boy during standard training on nuclear weapons maintenance.

Boy and girl lose sight of critical task during silo emergency while professing love for each other.

Boy and girl's inattention results in accidental detonation of nuclear device.

Byproduct of boy and girl's love is viewed in Washington as a preemptive strike by the Soviets, resulting in a FLASH order to entire Strategic Air Command to deploy all remaining weapons against the U.S.S.R.

Boy and girl's love results in the death of billions as Soviet early warning systems trigger immediate response.

At least I finally got back at dear old General Winston. Not much need for SAC generals when there are no nuclear weapons left.

Or humans... but what can you do?

After all, I'm just a simple set of atoms scattered across the North American continent.


You know what? I actually like this. Might submit it to a few humor magazines. As a reprint, of course.

I also want to take a moment to appreciate that, even with this silly-ass idea, I still felt compelled to put in a base level of research:

I'm so extra sometimes

Plus, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to celebrate, because...

I got BINGO, bitches!

Blank card for easier reading

My sincere thanks to fellow Vocalite Bri Craig for creating this romance trope/cliché BINGO card and giving me permission to share it here. It was the perfect tool to push the satire just that much further.

And just in case it wasn't clear from the intro, this will NEVER be a full-length novel. Not even a novella. Jamie and Kelly are dead now, and their world's dead with them. Not every love story has a happy ending. Sorry, not sorry ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Still, it gave me a definite kick to write this. Maybe you even got a kick reading it.

Or maybe you didn't. All the more reason to not write a full-length romance novel. I'm sooooo sad.

HumorShort StorySatireLove

About the Creator

Stephen A. Roddewig

I am an award-winning author from Arlington, Virginia. Started with short stories, moved to novels.

...and on that note: A Bloody Business is now live! More details.

Proud member of the Horror Writers Association 🐦‍⬛

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Comments (3)

  • L.C. Schäferabout a month ago

    I'll get shot for this, but not good writer is a romance writer. Incorporate it, sure, but it's never their primary genre. 😁

  • Donna Fox (HKB)about a month ago

    Hahah!! I hate how tropey this is and that it's so engaging!! Hate as in love it, because it's amazing and cheesy and you most certainly did hit bingo!! I laughed so hard at that part!!! 🤣 This was so good!! Great work Stephen!

  • Bri Craigabout a month ago


Stephen A. RoddewigWritten by Stephen A. Roddewig

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